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Noel Okimoto: News

2012 Update - January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Actually I am writing this on Dec 31, 2012 at 11:20 PM Hawaii time. The new year has already turned for many, for  several hours. 

It's been a fun and fruitful year, filled with up's and down's for Liane and I. Fortunately, health wise, we've both been well. Job wise, Liane is between jobs, or looking for the next opportunity, however you want to look at it.

Things have been absolutely great with the Royal Hawaiian Band, under the leadership of Clarke Bright. Clarke is a wonderful person, a strong and gracious leader and a solid musician.

To recap the year, I recorded a jazz album with the great Melveen Leed, and was fortunate to work with pianist Barry Miles who did the musical direction for the project. Barry is a fantastic player, and a beautiful arranger. He framed Melveen's vocal stylings perfectly.

Had a wonderful time playing double drums with the legendary Danny Gottlieb. This was with the always creative, Jeff Richman.

Liane and I took our third trip to Vegas, to see the SF Jazz Collective at a beautiful new venue called the Smith Center. The Collective sounded wonderful playing arrangements of Stevie Wonder tunes as well as their own great compositions. It was my first time seeing Eric Harland (beautiful touch and groove) and Stefon Harris ( awesome).

Had the fond pleasure of playing with the legendary Tom Scott, along with ukulele artist Brittni Paiva. Tom produced Brittni's latest CD, and came to Honolulu to her promote it. It was a blast working with Tom and Brittni.

As noted on my home page, I had a great time playing at the Hot Springs Jazz Festival in Arkansas. After the festival, I went to Nashville to visit the Pearl Drum Company... FUN!

I had the great pleasure of hearing Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, with Eddie Palmieri at the Manoa Music and Heritage Festival. Needles to say Dafnis was outstanding. I've been heavily studying his playing and music. Very inspiring stuff.

Finished the year with some fun music making with friend and great saxophonist, Andy Suzuki. DeShannon Higa, who is always looking to do creative projects, put together several fun gigs with his SubTonic Orchestra, a Groove Collective tribute, a fun big band night featuring Hawaii's legendary Jimmy Borges. All this capped off with me leading a night at Gordon Biersch playing some fun odd-time original music with my great friends and musicians, Dean Taba, Todd Yukumoto, Jim Howard and Gordon Biersch impresario, Robert Shinoda. My old friend and Santana bassist, Benny Rietveld was in town vacationing and stopped by and sat in. It was so much fun to play with Benny again.

That's about it for fact the fireworks are going off as I write. (I write very slowly).

Looking forward to a great 2013.



Update - Part Three - October 25, 2010

Liane and I just returned from a trip to L.A. and Las Vegas ( my first trip to Vegas) This was the classic work/vacation trip for both of us.

I played at the 2nd Annual Asian American Music Festival in Japan Town. It was held at The Japanese American National Museum. A three day event, we played on the middle day (saturday evening). Our set was with the great Abe Lagrimas Jr on vibes and drums, Dean Taba on bass ( so happy that Dean was in L.A. and able to play with us) and a new friend and fantastic musician Gary Fukushima on piano. Abe and I traded off playing vibes, and we had two drum sets so we did the drum duet (battle) thing. We both even played on "one" vibraphone at the same time. The set went off well with the audience. It was a great experience for me. Dean and I then joined Jake Shimabukuro for a wonderful set of his music. Always great playing with Jake.

Vegas was fun, although I didn't really get into the gambling ( too much smoke in the Casinos). Liane had to work all day on monday so I took a cab to see "Pawn Stars". There was a line about a hundred deep waiting to get in. I waited an hour before the line started moving. It turns out they were filming. I got into the shop, but didn't get to see Chumlee... I was a little disappointed, but had fun making the trek.

Liane and I went to see Mystere, and that was incredible. The show has everything, comedy, good live music, great staging and of course, the amazing acrobatics. I would love to see more shows.

Update Continues... - October 25, 2010

September was fun with Robert Shinoda inviting me to join him and a bunch of friends to play at the 3rd Annual Manoa Muisc and Heritage Festival ( formerly, The Manoa Jazz Festival). The band was fun with three guitarists, Robert, Vernon Sakata and Jeff Richman. Bruce Hamada played bass and myself. Larry Carlton was the headliner, and he played with his son on bass and an amazing young drummer named Gene Coye. They were absolutely great! Watch out for Gene, we will be hearing a lot about him in the future. I also played with Jeff Ricman and Dean Taba at Gordon Biersch, where Robert reenacted the Manoa Festival set with all three guitarists. Always big fun playing with Jeff. He is such a great writer of fun and challenging material that flows so musically... he also plays that way. The next night at Sarento's, Jeff, Dean (on acoustic bass) and I were joined by Jason Gaye on sax. Jason is such a wonderful player, with intense creative energy. Jason kinda' lead the night selecting some great classic Joe Hernderson compositions. So much fun to play that music.

Update! - October 25, 2010

Aloha,  I've been very delinquent in updating the site... very sorry about that. Here go's... 

The month of August was a blast playing with old friends visiting town. Ed Weber was great at Gordon Biersch and his wife Carol is doing wonderful work as a writer for The Had fun playing with the great Jimmy Borges and Betty Loo Taylor along with Steve Jones and Rocky Holmes at the annual Wildest Show In Town at the Honolulu Zoo. Played with my long time friend and fantastic musician Eric Miyashiro in a big band he lead at The Pearl City Cultural Center Jazz Festival. The festival featured The Honolulu Jazz Quartet, as well as Rhythm Summit ( fun playing with my buddies Kenny Endo and Dean Taba). The festival was a huge success ( kudos to producer Eric Kop and theater manager Nathan Kagihara) and hopefully we will be doing it next year. Soon after, played with trombonist and scientist, Chris Amemiya. Chris always sound's good and has a really nice book for 4 horns. Then I was off to Japan with Jake Shimabukuro. We did four dates, Osaka, Kochi (Ampan Man) Hiroshima and Tokyo. Jake is doing well in Japan with the release of his new CD. Every performance was sold-out, with the Osaka theater holding a thousand people, and the Tokyo Opera House holding two thousand. Dean and I went to see my old friend Makoto Ozone and his big band  called "No Name Horses" at the Tokyo Blue Note. Eric Miyashiro plays lead trumpet with the band and they sounded great. Wonderful compositions and playing. Makoto invited me up at the end of the set to sit-in with the band. That was a thrill and really big fun... thanks to Makoto and Eric.

Sarento's July 29, 2010 - August 3, 2010

Really had a great time playing with my best buddy, Dean Taba as he lead a band at Sarento's. Dean programmed an evening of wonderful music. Some Wayne Shorter, Victor Feldman, standards and of course, Dean's fine original compositions. Tim Tsukiyama played some beautifully swingin' tenor sax, and 16year-old pianist phenom Kyle Matsuda's playing was truly inspired and well beyond his years. Remember his name... Thanks to Dave Rohner for presenting jazz in a very nice setting, and giving all of the island's jazz musicians another much needed vevnue for the music.


Ornery Horns - August 3, 2010


Really great playing and some fine writing and arranging with the Ornery Horns at Gordon Biersch ( July 21). We were blessed with some fine jazz played buy The Iolani School Jazz Combo directed by Robert Shinoda. The students played some challenging stuff like "Some Skunk Funk", "The Chicken", and some Charlie Parker be-bop. Remember the name Logyn Okuda. Logyn played some funky and swingin' drums with the combo... and he is only 7years old. Fun night for all.

Ukulele Festival July 18, 2010 - August 3, 2010


Wow, it has been about twenty years of Ukulele Festivals for me... all have been great fun. Congratulations to Roy and Kathy Sakuma, who this year put on the 40th Annual Festival. This years festival was  just perfect. Perfect weather, perfect entertainment with C& K, Jake Shimabukuro etc., and the best 400 piece Ukulele Band in the land. Extra special for me because my four nephews and my niece all participated in the festival. ( Eli even won a really nice Koolau Ukulele).Thanks and a lot of love to Roy and Kathy.


David Benoit - August 3, 2010


Had a great time playing with pianist David Benoit on July 17th. Big thank you to Michael Paulo for continuing to present great artists to the Honolulu audiences. I played with Benoit earlier in the year on Maui as part of his brother Phil's, Benoit Family concert. Both times Dean Taba ( who toured with Benoit for many years) played his butt-off. Props to Phil, who is a fine guitarist.

Rhythm Summit Review - July 13, 2010

Go to <> to check out a nice review of Rhythm Summit's new CD. Thanks to Mike Bloom my great friend and great publicist for his help.


Dana Hall - July 12, 2010


Sorry this gig didn't make it on my calendar. This was with drummer Dana Hall at Gordon Biersch. The place was packed, with a lot of people and drummers. Always nice to see my drumming buddies.

I was on drums too, and Dana and I met for the first time at the gig. Didn't really say much with regards to the music. We just started playing, and it was magical. Dana's a great drummer and musician, and a great guy too. Dana returned to Chicago where he is a professor at The University Of Illinois. Looking forward to the next time.

Special thanks to DeShannon Higa, whose concept it was to bring Dana and I together. Great concept and great playing. Thanks to Robert Shinoda for his tireless dedication to bringing neat ideas like this to the Gordon Biersch stage. To Dean Taba, great playing and thanks for anchoring it all.


July Update - July 12, 2010


Sorry for being so delinquent with the updates. The last gig listed on the calendar was The Red Clay Jazz Festival on Kauai. Rhythm Summit performed, and was warmly received. Played with Ernie Watts, and that was way over-the top! Ernie was just sensational. Big mahalo to DeanTaba, Allen leong and Kenny Endo for their great playing with Ernie and Rhythm Summit. Special thanks to Judy Arrigo and all of the Kauai Concert Association staff and volunteers for their efforts in a very successful festival. Along with the great music, the majestic beauty of Hanalei Bay, and the beautiful St. Regis Hotel made for the perfect setting. This was topped off with a "double rainbow" during Rhythm Summit's sound check and a "moon-bow" during Ernie's closing set.


Post Gordon Biersch - June 17, 2010

Many thanks to all who came out to Rhythm Summit's CD release party last night at Gordon Biersch. We had a blast playing and "stretching out" on the music. Thanks to Robert Shinoda for allowing us to play, and for joining us and adding something special to our music. Look out for a review of the new Rhythm Summit CD by Star Advertiser's John Berger in next week's paper. A big mahalo to all who bought CD's last night.

Congratulations Kenny Endo! - June 12, 2010

Kenny Endo's 35th Anniversary Concert was last night, and it was a beautiful event. A nearly full-house at the Hawaii Theater paid homage to the great Taiko innovator. Rhythm Summit's set was short but very well received, and filled with surprises... just what you may expect from three jazz based musicians. Congratulations to a great guy, and a great musician.

Rhythm Summit - May 22, 2010

June will be a busy month for Rhythm Summit. Please check the calendar page for specifics. I would like to mention that our first performance will be part of Kenny Endo's 35th Anniversary Celebration Concert. Check out the flyer below. Our second performance will be our official CD release party at Gordon Biersch. The capper will be us playing at the 3rd annual Red Clay Jazz Festival on Kauai. In addition Dean Taba, our good friend and pianist Allen Leong and myself will be playing with the great Ernie Watts at the festival... exciting stuff. I will keep you posted as the dates Kenny_s_35th_Flyer.jpgget closer.

Waialua Bandstand Concert Cancelled - May 2, 2010


Sorry, but the Waialua Bandstand concert with the Royal Hawaiian Band has been cancelled due to the weather. Too bad we're all gonna' miss a chance to hear the great Gabe Bailtazar.

I will keep you posted as to when this concert is rescheduled.


RHB and Gabe Baltazar - May 2, 2010


For those you who may be interested, and for those that live in the area, the Royal Hawaiian Band will be performing at 4:00 PM at the Waialua Bandstand tomorrow, sunday May 2nd. The great Gabe Baltazar will be performing a couple of numbers with the band. It is a very beautiful out there in the country... hope to see you there.



New Website... finally! - April 30, 2010


Finally have a new website up and running. Just in time to announce the release of a new CD called "Rhythm Summit". A collaboration with master Taiko artist Kenny Endo and dear friend and fantastic musician Dean Taba. Please check out the CD, either at our gigs or at CD Baby as well as all the usual download sites Amazon, iTunes etc.


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